rating: 3 stars
quick take: happy and fluffy movie about love and cards
We live in a time when concepts like love, letters and innocence seem like nostalgia from an old library instead of real life facts. but that is exactly the charm of these old world ideas. once you see them, you appreciate the charm and directness associated with them. Manisha Koirala’s new film, Dear Maya, is based on these jaded but alluring ideas. Two seemingly naive girls in Shimla write letters to their lonely neighbor Maya Devi (Koirala) in an attempt to spark some Shah Rukh Khan-type love in her life. the story is pure fluff, no womb-shaking ideas here. just a simple vanilla story of three women who get their lives back and find out the world isn’t so bad. you know that love letters, dolls and bird cages are not going to change the world. but they do tell an interesting story, like an old granny tale.
The story begins in the picturesque surroundings of Shimla, where school girls Anna (Madiha Imam) and Ira (Shreya Chaudhary) decide that the only way to get rid of their listless feelings was to write prank letters to their mysterious neighbor. maya devi. maya is the dark and shadowy figure who lives in an old dilapidated house. She has two huge dogs for company and a local helper who looks like the female version of Igor from the Dracula stories. Anna’s mother informs them about Maya’s tragic past. so the girls decide they’ll write hopelessly romantic letters to the lady in black, just to add color to all of their lives. But his seemingly harmless idea of fun goes awry when Maya is convinced by her lover to the point that she decides to go meet him in Delhi. Anna has some kind of panic attack, but all her innocent guilt can’t stop Maya from disappearing into the dark.
While that premise may seem like it leads to great drama and emotion, dear maya never gets dark or gloomy. maintains a level of happiness and hope about it. Anna has fueled nightmares for 6 years, but even then, she manages to fall in love and grows up to be a seductive and charming girl. she continues to search for maya however. Anger, on the other hand, also has the series of tragedies from it. however, all three women get their deserved happy endings. dear maya it turns out like an old maupassant tale where good things happen to good people.
the movie has detailed dialogue although the script is not that elegant. mindful writing ensures that characters ask relevant questions and establish good self-criticism. even in her most scandalous moments, dear maya maintains a good level of emotional intelligence. The most notable part of the film is Manisha Koirala, of course. one of the most beautiful faces to ever appear on the big indian screen, she has aged and, with the help of half-decent makeup, she plays the gaunt maya devi with no inhibitions and a great sense of abandon. When Manisha’s character disappears for most of the second half, the movie feels a lot less engaging. her acting is truly remarkable. young madiha imam and shreya chaudhary also do well in her roles. Madiha’s intermittent accent feels a bit out of place, but she pulls it off nicely with moments of high drama.
dear maya is a happy film about innocence, love and compassion. there is no forceful drama. just a nice movie with a lot of love and genre fluff. a good movie for those who believe in being hopelessly romantic.